And now for something completely different

George Osborne’s greatest task was to persuade the nation that this epic reconstruction was vital, had been intelligently planned, and would be fairly done.

It will be the biggest-ever peacetime fiscal consolidation yet his budget was refreshing in its detail and its mixture of compassion and ruthlessness.

After the reckless mendacity of New Labour’s years of economic mismanagement, he offered “responsibility, honesty and transparency”.

I did not detect any of Gordon Brown’s trade-mark stealth taxes; hidden bombshells buried in the small-print; or double and triple counting for effect.

Of course, the twin burdens of keeping the Coalition together and the voters onside remain, yet I thought it was a pretty fair start.

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